Fort Ord Veterans Day Event Celebrates War Horses

By PHILLIP MOLNAR as published in the Monterey Herald

“Sgt. MacDonald is one of the last living horse cavalrymen and was the toast of this year’s event.”

Cavalryman Sgt. Allan MacDonald and his horse, Comanche II. (DAVID ROYAL/The Herald)

Cavalryman Sgt. Allan MacDonald and his horse, Comanche II. (DAVID ROYAL/The Herald)

There is something romantic about a soldier charging into battle on horseback.

It has been nearly a century since any army seriously went at their enemy on a horse, but that did not stop a celebration on Saturday for the more sentimental among us.

More than 150 people attended the fourth annual Veterans Day celebration by the Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse nonprofit at the Marina Equestrian Center.

They talked about the glory days of war horses, preserving its history and the “pivotal” moment when the U.S. Army dismounted its cavalry during World War II.

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Allan A. MacDonald, 90, said he is still “PO’d” the Army ended the cavalry.

MacDonald is one of the last living horse cavalrymen and was the toast of this year’s event. He attended the event in full uniform with his trusted white mustang, Comanche II.

The Marina man said he used to patrol the border of Mexico on horseback when he was stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas — something he thought was more effective than current methods.

“Now they can hear the planes coming,” he said of immigrants.

MacDonald was never in combat on horseback but he did have an illustrious career that spanned the globe.

He was the stable sergeant for Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan, made nine trips to Turkey to deliver some 1,200 horses and mules for the Turkish Army and was stationed in Australia, the Philippines and Korea.

After he retired in 1965 he came to Fort Ord to work as a supply driver.

MacDonald got permission to bury the last war horse used at Fort Ord, named Comanche, at the end of a trail named after him. The trail begins at the equestrian center and ends at the grave in Fort Ord National Monument.

He said he named his current horse Comanche II because they look similar. The mare is known to get a little “excitable,” MacDonald said. She even knocked over a 94-year-old veteran, who got up quickly, during a photo attempt.

Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado named MacDonald the “cultural ambassador” of the city at the event. MacDonald was also presented with a bench with his name on it to go in Fort Ord National Monument.

The celebration took place in the courtyard between the four buildings that made up the Fort Ord Station Veterinary Hospital for war horses.

Click (HERE) to see video of event

There were a minimum of 1,400 horses and mules on the base in the early 1940s, according to the Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse.

The nonprofit has worked to restore the buildings, as well as connect the area to Fort Ord National Monument through trails and greenways.

“These World War II war horse buildings capture that mammoth shift in military history as if frozen in amber,” said Margaret Davis, director of the nonprofit.

Horses still show up from time to time in American conflicts, usually in ceremonial units. But there are notable exceptions.

U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers rode horseback with the Afghan Northern Alliance in the early weeks of the Afghanistan War, experiencing intense combat. Their story resulted in the 2009 book “Horse Soldiers” and a statue in New York City.

In August, the Marines unveiled a statue of a chestnut mare named Sgt. Reckless who was used in the Korean War.

Purchased for $250 from a Korean boy in 1952, Reckless enjoyed scrambled eggs, chocolate bars and beer, according to Military.com. She also carried ammunition and wounded soldiers.

Iraq War veteran John Fornbacher of Pleasant Hill was at Saturday’s event as part of a historic reenactment group. He said vehicles in Iraq were constantly getting damaged by sand, so a horse might not be so bad in modern warfare.

“Horses, man,” he said, “you don’t need to worry about them missing a spark plug.”

Click (HERE) to pay your respects directly at The Hearld

7 comments on “Fort Ord Veterans Day Event Celebrates War Horses

  1. Equines are still partners in US military operations.
    Happy Veteran’s Day to our veterans; human and animal (dogs, equines, etc).
    Thank you for your service.

    Like

  2. Horses have been with us for most of recorded history. The horse is one of a very small group of animals who will empathize with us and is flexible enough to be ridden to our destination. While some put all animals on the same straight-line, the horse still stands out among them. Horses should be named as our National Mammal not only because they partnered with us, but because they arose and evolved on the North American tectonic plate.

    Like

  3. We should honor our veterans AND our War Horses.

    Washington, DC (November 6, 2013). . . .The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign today sent an official request to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee for immediate action and investigation of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for the shipment of 252 wild mustangs, captured from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada, to a slaughter middleman in Mississippi. Sheldon officials sent the last of the horses to Mississippi on Monday, despite warnings that the middleman, government contractor Stan Palmer of J&S Associates, was giving away horses by the truckload.

    AWHPC is asking the Senate Committee to investigate the FWS/Palmer contract, and to put a hold on Palmer’s dispersal of any additional Sheldon horses while the investigation is underway. AWHPC also hopes that the Committee will ask the Refuge to reconsider its plan to eradicate the wild horses and burros of the Sheldon Refuge due to their historic and cultural significance to the area. The ancestors of the Sheldon horses fought in battles as cavalry mounts through World War I.

    ACTION ALERT
    From AMERICAN WILD HORSE PRESERVATION CAMPAIGN

    Tens of thousands of us have spoken out about the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) transfer of wild horses from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada to Stan Palmer, the known slaughter middleman in Mississippi, but Washington isn’t listening.

    Just this week, another 100 horses were shipped to Palmer from Sheldon.
    A Palmer employee recently urged people on Facebook to “show up with your trailer and load em up….need gone asap!!!!” adding, “when they leave my house they are no longer my business.”

    Following the post, Sheldon horses began leaving Palmer’s property by the truckload. On October 31, the trailer below — packed with Sheldon horses — was one of two loads that left Palmer’s headed for Magnolia, Mississippi, where the horses allegedly will be used as rodeo bucking stock. There is little doubt that these wild, untamed adult horses will eventually end up in the slaughter pipeline.
    Senator Barbara Boxer is the Chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), which has oversight authority over FWS. Take these three steps right now to ask her and EPW to get to the bottom of this situation ASAP:

    1. Post to Twitter:

    2. Copy the text below and post to Senator Boxer’s Facebook Page.
    HEY Senator Boxer, before it’s too late, please use your Environment & Public Works oversight power to investigate why the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service transferred 252 wild horses to slaughter middleman
    http://wildhor.se/HHaa44

    Senator Boxer’s Facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/senatorboxer

    3. If you haven’t already, contact your Senators http://act.wildhorsepreservation.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15749
    and encourage them to make the same request of Senator Boxer and the EPW Committee

    Like

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